Sunday, September 30, 2007

In the Shadow of the Moon

Jeff and I just went to see the movie "In the Shadow of the Moon" (with a bunch of friends from my Space Policy program). The movie was great! It is the story of the Apollo program as told by the astronauts who were a part of it. The Apollo program was the series of Space Missions that put men on the moon. It was Apollo 11 in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon (and Mike Collins went to the moon, but stayed in the command module.) Interviews with the astronauts are spliced with video of the launches, news reports, and other things going on at the time. It really gives you a sense of how amazing the program was, and helps you imagine what it must have felt like to go to the moon. Twenty-four men have gone to the moon; twelve of those men have walked on the surface of the moon. This movie includes comments from interviews with every living man who has been to the moon. It is a very engaging movie, and presented in a really exciting way. I highly recommend it - check out the trailer!

Crab Feast

Yesterday Jeff and I went to a "crab feast" in Maryland. It's an event they do in Maryland where they bring in tons and tons of cooked crabs (in their shells) and you sit and eat them. Crabs are really hard to eat - they're really pointy and there's not a lot of meat in them - so it takes a long time and you can eat 3 or 4 and still not be full. It's was really fun.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Flight of the Conchords

Today has been filled with readings for my International Science and Technology Policy class this weekend - all about "National Systems of Innovation", "Research and Development", and things like that. I'm also working (ok, about to work on) a paper for my Space Policy class, about the historical goals of space and the current situation of NASA's mission. I'll post it when I get there.

I just took a quick break to watch the first episode of "Flight of the Conchords" which is an HBO show about two New Zealanders in New York City that are in a band - Flight of the Conchords. They also happen to be a real band (also named Flight of the Conchords). The TV show is hilarious! And the music is pretty awesome (and also hilarious). Definitely check it out if you can!

They have great lyrics, like those to Robots and You're Leaving:

Robots (Humans Are Dead)

Both: The distant future
The distant future
J: It is the distant future
The year 2000
B: We are robots
J: The world is very different ever since the robot uprising of the mid-90s.
There is no more unhappiness.
B: Affirmative
J: We no longer say yes. Instead we say ‘affirmative’.
B: Yes, Affirmative
J: Unless it’s a more colloquial situation with a few robo-friends.
J: There is only one kind of dance, the robot
B: And the robo-boogie
J: Oh yes. Two kinds of dances.
Both: Finally, robotic beings rule the world
The humans are dead
The humans are dead
We used poisonous gases
And we poisoned there asses
B: The humans are dead
J: That’s right they are dead
B: The humans are dead
J: They look like they’re dead
B: It had to be done
J: I’ll just confirm that they’re dead
B: So that we could have fun
J: Affirmative. I poked one. It was dead.

back to top

I'm Not Crying

So, you’re leaving, aren’t you?
I knew it when you said just then when you told me you were leaving
That’s when I definitely knew
But if you’re trying to break my heart
Your plan is flawed from the start
You can’t break my heart, it’s liquid
It melted when I met you
And as you turn around to leave
Don’t’ turn back to me
Don’t turn around and see if I’m crying
I’m not crying
I’m not crying
It’s just been raining on my face
And if you think you see some tear tracks down my face
Please don’t tell my mates
I’m not crying
No, I’m not crying
And if I am crying
It’s not because of you
It’s because I’m thinking of a friend of mine who you don’t know who is dying
That’s right, dying
These aren’t tears of sadness because you’re leaving me
I’ve just been cutting onions
I’m making a lasagna
For one
Oh, I’m not crying
There’s just a little bit of dust in my eye
That’s from the path that you made when you said your goodbye
I’m not weeping because you won’t be here to hold my hand
For your information there’s an inflammation in my tear gland
I’m not upset because you left me this way
My eyes are just a little sweaty today
They’ve been seaching around
They’re like searching for you
They’ve been looking around
Even though I told them not to
These aren’t tears of sadness
They’re tears of joy
I’m just laughing
Ha ha ha-ha ha
Sitting at this table called love
Staring down at the irony of life
How come we’ve reached this fork in the road
And yet it cuts like a knife?
I’m not crying
I’m not crying
I’m not cry-y-y-y-

Alright, back to work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Space is Awesome!

So, today is my "catch up with readings" for my Space Policy class. (Ok, I've only actually gotten through 1 of about 50 readings, but it's only 2pm, right?) Anyway, this has reminded me that space and space exploration, are awesome.

Did you know that there is a new Lunar X-Prize? You can with 30 million dollars land a robot on the moon and it travels 500 meters. Google is throwing in all sorts of extras, too.

"Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World."
Christopher Columbus

Monday, September 24, 2007


This is a short one. Just wanted to say that Jeff and I went Camping this weekend in Southern Maryland - Lookout Point. It's where the Potomac meets the Chesapeake Bay. It was really fun and we took some pictures:

Jump Start

Ok, I'm really busy, so the last thing I should really be doing is posting blogs, but I have a few things I've been meaning to write about but didn't get a chance. On Friday, Jeff and I volunteered at one of the Smithsonian Museums to help out with a "Jump Start" event. Jump Start is an organization that gets volunteers to spend time reading and doing activities with pre-school children (3-5 years old). Studies show that students academic success is linked to how well they're doing even at this early age - someone spending constructive time with them now can help them succeed as they go through school. Jeff and I thought it sounded really neat, so we signed up. (Usually Jump Start is a 10-12 hour weekly commitment, but this was just a one day event).

I was assigned to be a guide for the groups (a number of different pre-schools were coming) to bring them to the right places at the right time and help them get going with the activities. Jeff was in charge of the "Make a Flag" activity table. He had stickers and crayons and construction paper and helped the kids make flags.

Pre-schoolers are soooo cute. One kid drew his mom and dad and himself on the flag. Another kid put tons of stickers overlapping and said it was a robot. One little girl asked Jeff what a flag was. He responded that it is something that represents yourself. The little girl was still confused, but Jeff explained that it meant you should draw anything that you like, and that seemed to be a good explanation for her.

Anyway, Jump Start is a national organization, so check it out:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Learning Arabic

As salaam al aikum!

Today I went to my first Arabic lesson. The lessons are being offered for free through the GW Hillel. I can't make it to some of the classes because of a conflict in my schedule, but I'm hoping I'll be able to learn at least some Arabic this semester.

The class was pretty intense - the first hour was completely in Arabic, with the teacher saying hello and asking questions, and people in the class being chosen to answer. It was pretty effective for making you listen to how things sound and being able to say them yourself. Learning the different genders of words or the conjugations of verbs that way was pretty difficult. Most of the words are so different from what I've learned before that it's hard to remember.

The plan is to learn the alphabet in the next few classes, and then all the notes I take are supposed to be in Arabic (says my teacher) - he thinks trans-literation isn't a good way to learn a language. The alphabet should be really helpful, since most Arabic newspapers and other printed materials are in this language.

Classical Arabic, which we're learning, isn't actually that useful for speaking. My teacher said that nobody really speaks classical Arabic, they all speak a dialect. However, he said a lot of people in Arabic countries learn classical Arabic, so some may be able to speak it with you or at least understand you. The dialect in Saudi Arabia, for example, is very similar to classical Arabic. He told us that classical Arabic is to Arabic Dialects as Latin is to Italian.

So, I can now say hello, ask your name, say my name, ask where you're from, tell where I'm from (which city and which state), ask what's up and say I'm doing well. In theory, I can say me, he, her, you (male and female), his, and hers. I know what, how, and where.

Feel free to call me up and have me teach you - I really want to practice a lot, especially since I'll have to work extra hard to catch up to the classes I miss.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beauty and the Geek Premier

Today was the legendary Beauty and the Geek premier. Jeff's best friend (and a good friend of mine), John, is on the show this season, and we've been really excited to see him! We've been waiting and waiting, but finally tonight was the night. We had friends over and watched the 2 hour premier.

John did really well on the show - he's really fun to watch. I don't know how I'm going to make it watching each episode a week apart! I can't wait to see how he does. Jeff and I were complaining that they should show him more often - though I think even if he had been on constantly it wouldn't have been enough for us.

Keep watching with us: Tuesdays on the CW at 8pm/7pm Central!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

TV (recommendations and warnings)

Ok, ok... Three blogs in one night is kind of a lot. This will not be the norm, I think. I just wanted to issue a warning.

<<<Spoiler Alert - If at this point you still thought I was cool despite my interest in science and technology and the fact that I maintain a blog, this post will complete dispel that myth. Just wanted to warn you. Also, I might give away TV show plot points. :)>>>

Just let me start out by saying, I love the TV show Highlander. However, I have to ask you to never watch the made-for-TV Highlander movie, "The Source". The two hours I spent watching this show last night may have been the most disappointing two hours in recent memory. Man, it was awful. Instead of being menacing and scary, the main bad guy reminded me of an irritating sibling. Instead of threading plot into the movie, they chose to have about 5 minutes of spoken narrative in the beginning and end of the movie to explain to you what happened (not that it makes sense then either). Anyway, to summarize, Highlander is a great TV show. Highlander - The Source should be buried in a hole to be forgotten for all time.

On a lighter note, watch Dr. Who. It has the most episodes of any TV show ever, according to Scott Haynes, who is an expert on these things. The newest version, started in 2005, is very well done. It's true to the old show in having really hokey bad guys and really crazy plot lines. Check out BBC America to see for yourself.

Awesome TV to set your Tivo for:
Dr. Who
Beauty and the Geek (Season 3 for Matt, Season 4 for Juggo!)
The Office
Dresden Files
The 4400
Quantum Leap

TV that I'm investigating (read: watching lots of episodes of when I should be studying) to determine whether it's worth watching:
Torchwood (this is a spin-off of Dr. Who, so it gets extra points)
The Big Bang Theory

Science and Technology

One of my classes is on Science and Technology Policy. We're only a few classes in, but there were a few interesting points we talked about today that I thought I'd mention. The lecture in general was about each the "national innovation system". This is basically each country's method of researching and getting new knowledge and the system they have in place to use that knowledge to help the society grow. It includes things like the education system, government funding, industry, research and development, and established institutions (institutions being the established relations between the previous things). The two topics I want to mention are the lack of change in institutions and our generation's perception of technology change.

In class, we talked about how agriculture has had a huge effect on many parts of society, and that even when the logical link is gone, the institution doesn't change. For example, students were given the summer off because this was a time that they could help with farming and taking care of crops. Now that most students do not have this task to manage, it has been proposed that year-round school should be implemented. However, even though the reason of farming is no longer there, many people don't want to change to year-round school.

I should mention, I'm a big fan of summer vacation, so I'm not necessarily advocating year-round school, I just think it's interesting how hard it is to change traditions, even when it might make sense.

Technology Change:
Our professor asked us the question: Think about the number of transportation methods available right now (cars, planes, boats, trains, etc.). Raise your hand if you believe that no more methods of transportation will be developed.

Nobody raised their hand. Even when the stipulation was added that the change would occur within our lifetime, nobody raised their hand.

Our generation has a strong belief that technology will continue to evolve - we assume that we are in a constant, and fast, process of change. In fact, our professor guessed that people would probably drop the class if he disagreed and took a pessimistic view of technology change, and believed that technology change will slow down, and things won't change much. The average person in our generation (and the average consumer) expect technology development to continue inevitably.

Ok, I reallize these aren't fully developed thoughts - but I have a textbook to read, so I think that's all I've got for today. Feel free to comment.

My First Blog!

So... this is the first time I've had a blog. I've just moved to Washington, DC and switched from being an engineer to studying international science and technology policy. I'm exploring DC, learning about policy, attending lots of talks and conferences and symposiums, and continuing my travels around the US and the world. This blog will be covering all the wondering and wandering I'm doing.